Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: Nirvana by J.R. Stewart

Book #1 of the Nirvana Series
Genre: YA Dystopian Sci-fi
Publication: November 2015 by Blue Moon Publishers
Acquisition: read a free eARC via NetGalley

When the real world is emptied of all that you love, how can you keep yourself from dependence on the virtual?

Animal activist and punk rock star Larissa Kenders lives in a dystopian world where the real and the virtual intermingle. After the disappearance of her soulmate, Andrew, Kenders finds solace by escaping to Nirvana, a virtual world controlled by Hexagon. In Nirvana, anyone’s deepest desires may be realized - even visits with Andrew.

Although Kenders knows that this version of Andrew is virtual, when he asks for her assistance revealing Hexagon’s dark secret, she cannot help but comply. Soon after, Kenders and her closest allies find themselves in a battle with Hexagon, the very institution they have been taught to trust. After uncovering much more than she expected, Kenders’ biggest challenge is determining what is real – and what is virtual.

Nirvana is a fast-paced, page-turning young adult novel combining elements of science fiction, mystery, and romance. Part of a trilogy, this book introduces readers to a young woman who refuses to give up on the man she loves, even if it means taking on an entire government to do so.
(from Goodreads)
2 / 5 Stars

I need to start by saying that I read the updated e-galley of this one. From the email sent out by the publisher and from reviews on Goodreads, I guess the original copy that was uploaded to NetGalley and sent out went through some major revisions and a new copy was made available. I read the new, updated and what I assume, final copy.

I'm not one to give out 2 star reviews without great consideration before hand. I thought a lot about how I felt about Nirvana before sitting down to write this review and after consideration I can't say that I enjoyed this book.

The premise was very cool - I loved the idea of a world were virtual reality is actually a tangible THING that can affect society. Unfortunately with Nirvana, I never really got a firm fix on the rules of this world. It's a dystopian but it's only been a handful of years since the bees died and everything...changed? And there is one big corporation ruling City? I don't know and I honestly just didn't understand any of it.

And then there is Kenders. As a character I actually really liked her, but her timeline is beyond logic. It's around 2087 for most of the book. At the beginning, it seems as if Kenders just turned 17. But she's living with her fiance, she's been in a punk rock band, she was an activist, she has a car, an apartment, a job and SO MANY things in her life happened "years ago". No exaggeration - almost every past event she describes happened "years ago". When? When she was 14? Where are her parents? What was she actually doing as a teenager?

And her fiance, is at least 5 years older then her - and they have been together for at least 3 years...and she graduated...something...high school? College? And she was, enough of a pop rock star that her band mate can now make a living off of what sounds like a sort of Vegas show style living. And all of these really important live events happened years ago.

I couldn't get past this.

From what I can gather, I think in the first copy of the book that went out to reviews, Kenders was married. So maybe she was older? Maybe the story was reworked to be more YA and so she's now a teenager but other details of her life weren't changed enough? I really don't know.

Again - very confusing and very lacking in logical facts and the story unfortunately wasn't strong enough to make up the difference.

Even with all that said, I would read another book by this author. At the present, Nirvana appears to be their only published book (although it's going to be a trilogy?) but I have to say, I did enjoy the writing and the style. All the little details of Nirvana just didn't work together for me but overall, the story was a pretty good one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Review: Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Book #3.5 of The Lunar Chronicles
Genre: YA Sci-fi Fantasy
Publication: January 2015 by Feiwel and Friends
Acquisition: bought

In this stunning bridge book between Cress and Winter in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, Queen Levana’s story is finally told.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?

Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.

Marissa Meyer spins yet another unforgettable tale about love and war, deceit and death. This extraordinary book includes full-color art and an excerpt from Winter, the next book in the Lunar Chronicles series.
(from Goodreads)
5 / 5 Stars

So - who loves The Lunar Chronicles!

"I do! I do!"

A few pages into book one, Cinder and I was hooked. It's just THAT GOOD.

With that said, I wasn't rushing to get my hands on a copy of Fairest. Possibly because I absolutely hate Levana and I was worried that in knowing her backstory I might actually start to feel sorry for her and possibly because I saw it as a fluff book that was only standing in the way of Winter coming!

I was wrong.

On both counts.

Because - OMG No! My hate for Levana was stronger then ever after finishing Fairest.

And because - not only was it a perfect story to read before delving into the 800+ page massiveness that is Winter, it gives some really good background to Winter as a character and some pretty cool insight into the Lunar world.

Do you need to read Fairest before reading Winter? No.

Do you need to read Fairest at all to still enjoy the series as a whole? No.

Should you read Fairest because Meyer is word magician and you love the world she has created so much you just want ALL OF IT? Yes.

Also, on it's own, it's a pretty great story. The backstory of Levena and her family seems to be one that existed all along and not something thrown together or created solely for the purpose of another book to add to the chronicles. It felt, to me, like the details of this story were always there, lurking beneath the surface of books one, two and three.

In essence, it's a pretty perfect backstory -- one where all the pieces fit.

I highly recommend Fairest to fans of The Lunar Chronicles and I highly recommend reading it as book 3.5 - after Cress and before Winter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

All the Wishes Fit To Print (4)

Additions to my ever growing wishlist -- what's on yours?

The Blood Between Us by Zac Brewer
May 2016 by HarperTeen

"edgy page-turner about the insidious limits of labels" - insidious is right. Labels suck. Lots going on here! Sound fabulous!

Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young
November 2015 by Simon Pulse

I'm a huge fan of Suzanne's and I love big creepy hotels!

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti
September 2015 by Simon Pulse

Ok - I keep seeing this one in stores but at nearly 550 pages it's a little daunting. But it has heros and supper powers - I wont' be able to hold off for long!

Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr
March 2016 by HarperCollins

Not sure if this takes place in the same world as Wicked Lovely but it's more fae and it's Melissa Marr so I'm excited!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Hello? by Liza Wiemer

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publication: TODAY!! November 10, 2015
Acquisition: read a free eARC via NetGalley

One HELLO? can change a life. One HELLO? can save a life.

Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma's death.
Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.
Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.
Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.
Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.

Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens' stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.

Told from all five viewpoints: narration (Tricia), narration (Emerson), free verse poetry (Angie), screenplay format (Brenda), narration and drawings (Brian).
(from Goodreads)
4.5 / 5 Stars

So good!

Wasn't sure at first - the 5 person narrative formatting took a little bit getting used to. We get full narration from Tricia, Emerson and Brain but poetry from Angie and screenplay format from Brenda. For this reason, Tricia, Emerson and Brian felt the most developed. Comparatively Angie came off as shallow and Brenda just seemed like a hot mess because screenplay format is not my thing!

Regardless of the format, the stories these characters have to tell are tremendous. Big on feeling, big on drama, big on history, big all over! Each character's life was so detailed but nothing felt overdone. We're getting a small snapshot of their lives, but in the end they all felt like long time friends.


Sometimes your friends can be annoying.

Gotta say, for me, Tricia is that friend.

She starts the book, and she has a connection to so many of the other characters that she really dominates the story. And I didn't like her. And I didn't like where her story went and how other characters where involved in it.

She's going through something horrible, and she spends a lot of time feeling sorry for herself and it's not really her fault - it's all tied into her grief. But still...I didn't enjoy her narrative as much and I found myself not really caring what happened to her and the romance surrounding her past, present and future wasn't likable.


I was pretty blown away by the story as a whole. The way everything fit together, the format, the setting, the individual stories - it all worked for me. Tricia didn't work for me but Hello? is more then the story of 1 person. It's more then the story of 5 people. Broken up into pieces, or all together as a whole, this is a powerful story and a fantastic ya contemporary.

Highly recommended!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review: The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

Genre: YA Paranormal Horror
Publication: February 2015 by Simon Pulse
Acquisition: read for free on

The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.

Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.

But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future….
(from Goodreads)

3.5 / 5 Stars

A 'meh' read for me. I was hoping to be a bit more scared. Not like,' can't sleep clowns will eat me' scared but maybe 'jump into bed really quick after shutting the lights off' scared.

I think I hit 'oh hells no, never would I ever go into that dark scary forest by myself' scared but in the end it wasn't as satisfying as I would have liked.

I think I'm overly critical of horror stories in general and The Bargaining just didn't wow me. I do think others would enjoy it more though.

There are a lot of classic elements here - creepy house in the woods no one wants to talk about, small town full of secrets, dangerous boogie men hiding around every corner -- they all really worked well together too.

With The Bargaining, it's more about the journey not the the destination. My issues revolved around expecting the story to lead somewhere specific. There weren't any aha moments but I kept waiting for them. This took away from the overall tale for me but it was my fault as I had the wrong expectations going in.

Spooky at times but not overwhelming. Horror but not has horrific as I was expecting. Still - a good book I encourage you to try for yourself if ya horror and mystery is your thing.